Councillors not happy with new chamber seating arrangements
A NUMBER of recently elected councillors aren't happy with the Wicklow County Council seating arrangements, with Fianna Fail and some independents particularly upset.
The council chamber within the County Buildings has been altered somewhat to accommodate the increase to 32 elected members. Four Fianna Fail councillors are divided from their three colleagues, while the independent councillors now sit in a semi-circular formation surrounded by the rest of the council.
The minutes of a previous meeting said the current arrangement would remain in place for 12 months, after which who sits where could be altered.
However, Cllr. John Brady said no such arrangement after 12 months had been agreed upon.
Cllr. Pat Vance disagreed.
'The Fianna Fail group are the second largest in the council and we are deeply unhappy with the current seating situation.
'We were prepared to move once the seven Fianna Fail people can sit together. We are prepared to leave it for 12 months and look at it again then. There are also three independents unhappy about their arrangements. I don't want to make a big issue of this.'
Independent Councillor Jim Ruttle said he would have preferred to remain sitting where he had been for the past 26 to 27 years.
'I wouldn't regard this as satisfactory.'
Cllr. Pat Kavanagh said she didn't recall an arrangement whereby seating could be changed after 12 months.
Cllr. Vincent Blake said Fine Gael were happy with where they were sitting but acknowledged that some groups were divided.
'It was my understanding to give 12 months to see if people are settling by then. There was to be an initial trial period of 12 months.'
Cllr. Tommy Cullen also complained about where the independents were asked to sit.
'We are all being put into a very small space. There is ample room for better arrangements. It's not reasonable to say independents should be put into this sardine can.'
Cathaoirleach Chris Fox quipped back, 'you are finally in the inner circle.'
'That can be a dangerous place to be' responded Cllr. Cullen.
Eventually it was agreed to leave the seating arrangements as they are for 12 months and then see if different arrangements need to be put in place.
Steven Matthews was perplexed at how much time had been spent talking about whom sits where.
'I never mentioned 12 months in my initial proposal. The reason I made it was because I couldn't believe the amount of time spent arguing over seating arrangements when we have so much work to do here. I think it is very petty for people top be arguing over where they are sitting.'
Cllr. Miriam Murphy was also critical of the seating debate.
'We started this meeting late and have spent the past 15 to 20 minutes on seating arrangement issues. It's sad to think grown men and probably women are fighting over where to sit.'